Every profession has its group of people who get into it for the wrong reasons. Regardless of what you do for a living, you can probably think of someone who does what you do for all the wrong reasons. HR is no exception. Just like most other professions, those who do it for the wrong reasons are usually in the minority, but they are often the ones which create negative stereotypes overall for everyone else.
In HR, those people are the ones who do it because they are on some type of power trip. They go into HR thinking that they will have some type of control, some type of authority, over others and this is important to them. They are the ones who will tell you “no” simply because they can. They will look at you and say “I’m sorry, but you can’t promote this person because the job description says you have to have 5 years experience, and they have 4.” Or they may say “nope, you cannot fire this person because your documentation is not good enough.” These are the people who will throw around fancy legal terms and academic theories and expect you to follow them because it all sounds fine and good.
They are HR Bullies. Just like the kids on the playground (or now online), they are the ones who feel inferior in some capacity, so they overcompensate in another.
For the majority of us who have to deal with the carnage these people create for our profession, I have a request:
Make them explain what the legal term that they just threw out means. Ask them to educate you on the “halos and horns” effect (or whatever they are spouting off). Explain to them that you understand there are going to be risks, but you want to better understand those risks so you can make an informed business decision. Remind them that at the end of the day it is your call. You are the one who will have to answer if the decision goes south. If they can’t get their heads around that, take it up the chain until you get someone who gets it.
Just like a schoolyard bully, if you push back these people will either adapt, or go somewhere else. If they adapt, score one for the good guys. If they go somewhere else, they will still sully my profession, but at least you won’t have to deal with them and maybe, just maybe, the next place they go will also be an informed reader of HR for Y’all and all its goodness. If not, send them a link – I can use the readers.